Hot Off the Grill: Home Grilling Safety Tips

By Shawnte Loeri, Communications Associate, Partnership for Food Safety Education

Families are doing more grilling this year. Nielsen reported that fresh meat alternative sales increased 255% in the last week of March (compared to the same week in 2019), fully outpacing the growth of meat sales, which increased 53% over the same period.

Fight BAC! is here to help you out with a few essential tips on handling meat safely, and how grilling safely at home can keep you and your family healthy.

Be sure to join us Wednesday, May 13 for Protein Power Hour: Grilling #AloneTogether immediately followed by an afternoon of grilling food safety videos and Q&A on the Food Safety YouTube channel. Join us for grill talk and all things BBQ!

Clean hands and surfaces

Washing your hands and surfaces the correct way will help reduce the risk of harmful germs:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
  • Do not rinse raw meat or poultry with water before cooking it. This is not a safety step, and it could spread dangerous germs around your kitchen!

Thawing meat

You may be buying more meats in bulk right now and freezing for later use. Make sure to thaw meats properly:

  • Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90°F).
  • Never thaw food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing.
  • There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately

Marinades

Everyone loves a good marinade! Make sure to safely marinate and store your meat:

  • Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors.
  • Don’t use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food.
  • Reserve a portion of the unused marinade to use as a sauce.

Grilling temps

When it’s time to grill the food, cook it to a safe internal temperature for safety and quality. Use a food thermometer to be sure! Download the Safe Minimal Internal Temperatures Chart

  • Beef, pork, veal and lamb (roast, steaks and chops): 145 °F with a three-minute “rest time” after removal from the heat source
  • Ground meats: 160 °F
  • Poultry (whole, parts or ground): 165 °F
  • Eggs and egg dishes: 160 °F, but cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm; scrambled eggs should not be runny
  • Fin fish: 145 °F
  • Shrimp, lobster and crabs: flesh pearly and opaque
  • Clams, oysters and mussels: shells open during cooking
  • Scallops: milky white, opaque and firm

Avoid cross-contamination

Cross-contamination is how harmful bacteria can be spread. Improper handling of raw meat, poultry or seafood can create an inviting environment for cross-contamination:

  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood.
  • Be sure to have plenty of clean utensils and platters on hand.

Leftovers

After the meal, remember to handle leftovers safely to prevent foodborne illness:

  • Plan on enough storage space in the refrigerator and freezer. In the refrigerator, air needs to circulate to keep the temperature at 40 °F or below. Use an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator to monitor the temperature.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.
  • Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3-4 days
  • Reheat leftovers to 165 °F before eating.

To help you Fight BAC!® (harmful bacteria) this grilling season, we’ve collected five grilling recipes with built-in food safety and hand hygiene steps.

Have a happy and safe grilling season!

Shawnte Loeri is the Communications Associate with the Partnership for Food Safety Education. She can be reached at sloeri@fightbac.org.

Bulk Food Buying During Coronavirus

Woman Buying meat at the grocery store

By Shelley Feist, Executive Director, The Partnership for Food Safety Education

As of this writing you, along with 90 percent of your fellow Americans, are under stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic.  The orders are in place to minimize physical contact between people which is how the virus spreads.

Under these stay-at-home orders, procuring food remains an essential activity.  For many people, food delivery is an attractive option.  For others, particularly those on a tight budget, and those who may view grocery shopping as one way to experience some sense of normalcy, their local food retailer is their source for food and other basics for isolating at home.

Grocery Store Visits – Planning for Perishables

Buying food in bulk helps you limit the number of trips you need to make to the store, possibly reducing exposure to others who potentially could be carrying the coronavirus.

Fight BAC! is here to help you out with a few essential tips on buying and storing bulk perishables, and how managing for food safety at home can keep you healthy and minimize food waste.

As you consider your food budget and how to efficiently use the food you have at home, we have some great resource suggestions:

  • The USDA SNAP-ED program on meal planning and food budgeting.
  • My Plate is also a good source for tips on getting the most out of the food dollars you’re spending, plan meals for balanced nutrition, and reduce food waste.

Shopping for Perishables

Now, let’s get shopping for those perishables.

Make a list of what you are planning to buy – and link it to specific meals or healthy snacks you’ve planned.

Check your refrigerator and freezer before your grocery trip:

  • Do you really need more meat, poultry, fish and eggs?
  • Do you have items in the freezer that could be safely thawed and worked into a meal?

Before you go to the store is a great time to review what you have, and plan to buy items that allow you to put together a meal from the foods you have in the freezer.

BYOB Bring Your Own Bags to the Grocery Store

On your trips, plan to use your own bags – preferably quality canvas totes that have just been freshly laundered.  During the coronavirus outbreak some stores are not allowing customers to bring their own reusable totes. You may want to check with your retailer before you go.

Now is a great time to get into the habit of laundering your totes on a regular basis – and not storing them in your trunk or outdoors.  Invest in sturdy totes that hold up well to laundering.

Buying Bulk Fruit – How Long Will it Last?

Retailers are reporting significantly increased sales of 5-pound bags of apples, oranges and other fresh produce.

Be aware of how long fruits and vegetables will last.

  • Plan to only buy what you will be able to consume or prepare for freezing.
  • Apples will last 3 weeks if stored at cool temperature, and 4-6 weeks if refrigerated.
  • Oranges and other citrus is best if eaten within 20 days if refrigerated.

Produce safety expert Trevor Suslow’s article covers safe handling of produce with coronavirus.  Remember – running tap water and clean hands are all you need to rinse your fresh fruits and vegetables.

Meat and Poultry coronavirus bulk-buying tips

Buying larger family-sized trays of beef, pork, and chicken products is a common way to stock up, save money and have important basic protein on-hand for preparing family meals.

If you buy bulk meat and poultry, and you plan to divide it up for freezing portions, keep in mind this important and often-overlooked recommendation:  you want to retain the original package label.  Why?  Should there be a later recall of a meat or poultry product, you will then know if you have that product in your refrigerator based on identifying marks.

Keep the Label

One suggestion is to cut the labeling off the large package, and put it, along with your store receipt if possible, in a plastic sandwich bag, marking on the bag the date of purchase.  Mark each of the portions you plan to freeze with an identifier so you will know it was part of the bulk tray you purchased.

When there is a recall of a meat or poultry product, you’ll be able to identify the product in your freezer if you’ve kept this label information.

The retailer imprint area should include the product name, brand name (not all meat and poultry is under a brand name), establishment number, product weight/size, lot code and date code.

Keep the label information in a safe place where you will be able to check it in the event of a recall involving products you commonly buy.

Wrapping Meat and Poultry Properly

Wrap separate pieces of meat or poultry in foil or plastic bags, then place all wrapped or bagged portions into a larger freezer bag or foil wrap.  Press all air out of the bag or foil package and label the package with the identifying information and date you froze.

Even though these products can be kept for about a year in the freezer, for quality and flavor remember to plan meals that will use these products within about four months.

Fresh meat and poultry should not be kept in the refrigerator very long before you use it or freeze it. For poultry just 1-2 days and for cuts of meat just 3-5 days maximum.  For safety and quality, make sure your refrigerator is at 40 F or below.  Your refrigerator temperature is important to reducing risk of food poisoning.

What about deli meats? How long can I store them?

Once you open a package of deli meat, you have only 3-5 days to consume it.  Unopened deli meats keep at proper refrigeration for two weeks.

For your many other perishables, including eggs, dairy and other products, the USDA-Food Marketing Institute Food Keeper can help you navigate how long these foods can be kept for safety and quality.  The Food Keeper is available as a mobile app, too.

Everyone has a role in food safety! And consider this– It is never a good time to have to visit your doctor because you or your loved one has a foodborne illness, but now is an especially bad time to require medical attention.

Limit your exposure by staying home, and have the entire family be up-to-speed on the   Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill practices at fightbac.org

Shelley Feist is Executive Director of the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education.

 

 

 

Lisa’s Table Is All About Safe Dinners

Meet Lisa

Lisa Treiber is a dedicated BAC Fighter who is passionate about keeping her community safe. She is an Extension Agent at Michigan State University, and she regularly uses Fight BAC resources in her curriculum.

Lisa values raising awareness around safe food handling practices. Throughout the semester she teaches courses that remind students how to stay healthy. She also shares The Story of Your Dinner resources — particularly around the holiday season. She has done this for many years and has noticed that her community responds positively to it.

Lisa’s Table Spreads Awareness for the Holidays

This past holiday season, Lisa dedicated a table to food safety in the atrium of the Midland County Building Department. She blew up food safety tips from The Story of Your Dinner and made them into laminated tiles. The tiles were arranged to be easily read by anyone who passes through the building. Lisa is thankful for the clear messages on each tile like “Suds up for 20 seconds” and “Keep your refrigerator at 40°F or below.”

Lisa went a step further and printed off recipes with food safety steps and left them on the table. She worked hard to emphasize the importance of food safety during the holiday season, and it was well received by her peers and community. She was pleasantly surprised to see over 50 recipes had been taken from the table by the diverse population that walks through the building.

Years of Community Engagement at the Table

This isn’t the first year Lisa has created a table display. A couple years ago, she increased community engagement by holding a drawing for those who stopped at the table. Over 75 people entered and the winner received a fridge thermometer to ensure their fridge was at a food-safe temperature. The county health department sanitarian workers who approved the display said that it was “wonderful”.

Lisa feels that with the number of those who have responded each year, she is getting her message across and doing her part in spreading awareness to her community. She appreciates that the resources from the Partnership for Food Safety Education are diverse and can be easily tweaked to be used throughout the entire year.

Lisa Treiber is an Extension Agent at Michigan State University. She can be reached at treiber@msu.edu.

You can make sure families have the safe food handling information that they need to reduce their risk of food poisoning with a personal contribution today. Click here to make a gift.

Handwashing for ordinary people in a time of novel coronavirus

By Shelley Feist, Executive Director, Partnership for Food Safety Education

Have you been hearing in the news, at school and at work that there are important things you need to do to stay healthy?

BTW, the coronavirus handwashing advice you’ve been hearing about has always been recommended for your healthy daily life!

That’s right, these handwashing basics should be a part of your daily life and your family and friends too!  Here’s the Handwashing How!

How should I wash my hands?

Check it out — there are 5 easy steps.

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water and apply soap.
  2. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Continue rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds, about the time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean cloth or paper towel.

This video from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives you all the basics.  Share this video with everyone you know.

So now you know how.

When should I wash my hands to protect myself and others from the risk of harmful germs?

Well, there are many times throughout the day, including:

  • Before eating food
  • Before, during and after preparing food
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After handling uncooked eggs or raw meat, poultry or seafood (or their juices)
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After touching an animal or animal waste
  • After touching garbage
  • After using the toilet or assisting another with doing so

Also, consider that your smartphone or tablet could be a source of contamination.  If you use your device in the kitchen while preparing food, you should wash your hands after holding or touching the device.

What should I use to wash my hands?

Research shows that “plain” soap is just as good as any other soap.  Using soap and water is the best option.

If running water is not available for handwashing, then use a hand sanitizer as a back-up. Your hand sanitizer product should be at least 60% alcohol content in order to be effective.

Finally, it is important to take time to help young children wash hands properly.

I know, I know. You’re thinking: I can’t keep up with all the times during the day my child should wash his or her hands.

Still, take time to model proper handwashing.  The research about the benefits of regular handwashing says it all. Modeling proper handwashing sets kids up for a healthy life!

Download a free poster or this Happy Hands song placemat to remind your kids of the 5 steps to proper handwashing!

Happy Handwashing!

Shelley Feist is the Executive Director with the Partnership for Food Safety Education. She can be reached at (202) 220-0651 or sfeist@fightbac.org. Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter

An Interview with BAC: How Much He Loves Super Bowl Parties

BAC® sat down with Shelley Feist, Executive Director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education, to talk about his idea of “Super Bowl fun”.

Q: BAC, lots of people are getting together over food to watch the Super Bowl. What do you love most about Super Bowl parties?
A: I love that there is so much chaos in the kitchen that
day — I love it! After all, if you are distracted and you have 10 friends each bringing a food dish to a party, that creates some real opportunities for me. I also love that the game lasts a long time — usually 3 ½ hours. That’s great too!

Q: What do you mean?
A: Well, first of all, if you have 10 friends bringing 10 dishes, do you think each one of them was careful in washing their hands with soap and water before preparing that food? No! Or that those platters of deli meats and veggies have been kept at 40 °F for the past few hours? No way! The more food, the more chaos… the better for me! These situations create a real opportunity for me.

Q: Opportunity?
A: Put it this way, if you are going to skip washing your hands before you handle food, I am going to be there. And I’ll be ready to jump off your hands to every food item you touch. I also love a nice, warm room temperature and plenty of time to sit around on your food. I take advantage of these opportunities. I show up and multiply!

Q: You don’t sound like a very good Super Bowl party guest. Why would anyone invite you?
A: What? I show up uninvited all the time! And it’s easy to do. You can’t believe how many people provide the perfect conditions for me to show up and to multiply! I had the greatest time at Thanksgiving when the Smith family didn’t use a food thermometer, and they only cooked their stuffing to 130 °F! That was great!

Q: Images on the web show you as green and kind of creepy. But sitting here with you, you don’t appear that way at all. Why don’t you tell the readers what you look like?
A: I’m illustrated as short, green and aggressive. In reality I’m invisible — you can’t even see me. But yeah, I’m aggressive. When I’m out at room temperature, you can be sure I’ll be aggressive and start showing up all over in your food. That’s what I’m all about. 

BAC® is aggressive, loves to multiply at room temperature, and is ready to show up uninvited to your Super Bowl party! To learn how to keep BAC® out of your football gathering plans, check out www.fightbac.org.

Have a winning Super Bowl party from your friends at the Partnership for Food Safety Education!

More resources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/features/superbowlplaybook/index.html